Albany’s Luke Hetherington has a hobby like no other. Some might say it is a “dark art”. With a telescope and camera in tow, Hetherington sets off on night adventures to capture a side of some of the region’s most photogenic places some have never seen before. Growing up on a farm in Lake King, the astrophotographer now lives in Little Grove with wife Bec. He has spent eight years behind the camera lens, pursuing his passion for capturing views of our planet and beyond. “I got an idea in my head that I wanted to buy a camera, so I went to Harvey Norman, bought an entry-level DSL camera and I decided I really enjoyed landscape photography,” Hetherington said. “That then progressed to doing nightscape stuff. “I enjoyed the aspect of having a landscape and putting stars in the background because there are not many people doing that.” Hetherington’s images truly are out of this world, but the finished product is not achieved with one click of a camera button. He said hours of behind-the- scenes work went into it. Shooting with a Nikon D850 camera for his landscape work, Hetherington also has certain equipment specialised for capturing stars and space. “When I put my cameras up to my telescope, I’ve got a special astrocamera — it’s a cool astronomy camera which means it has fans that keep it nice and cold so it doesn’t overheat,” he said. “It’s also a black-and-white camera so it doesn’t take colour, but a series of black and white images. “To get the colour, you shoot with different filters, so red, green, blue filters which let in different parts of the light spectrum.” In post-processing programs, Hetherington converts the images into a properly coloured photo. Taking hundreds of images of the same location, he stacks them together with a layering effect which reduces the noise and grain of the photo, producing the final product. Hetherington said astrophotography was a huge learning curve. “You have to learn a different language for the most part,” he said. “But you’re not going to make millions selling photos of stars. “I’ve only dipped my toe into the costs of things. I’ve got friends who have spent tens of thousands on telescopes and observatories.” One memorable photo that stands out for Hetherington was when he captured the International Space Station passing in front of the moon. He described it as a “euphoric” moment. “I had to travel to Kojonup to get in the exact spot to get the pass. If you’re too far north or south, the International Space Station will pass but it won’t be in front of the moon,” he said. Hetherington said there was a lot of planning involved in that one shot, including knowing when the moon was rising and setting, what cycle it was in, and GPS co-ordinates. “The actual time it took for it to pass the moon was 0.7 of a sec or something — I put the camera in rapid-fire mode, pressed the button and took as many as I could,” he said. “It was ridiculous to see this little black blob pass in front of moon in half a second... it was all worth it.” With a background as a tradesman, Hetherington has set up his side business Hedworx Digital combining his passion for photography and DIY. “My passion is making big nice prints, framing them and selling them as individual one-off pieces,” he said. He is yet to visit some of the State’s prime astrotourism spots. One of his next goals is to get out to the Wheatbelt to capture abandoned ruins on farms. “The juxtaposition of seeing something old and decrepit just lying there in an eternal state of decay lit up by the stars — there’s something pretty cool about that,” he said.